Starting empathy in Pre-First
Last year, all Wildcats in Love Hall learned about empathy through their Second Step lessons during Morning Meeting, schoolwide Community Celebration assemblies, classroom counseling lessons, and Bible Values lessons. In Pre-First this month, I’m beginning the discussion about this important topic by talking with students about the numerous feelings everyone has, different names for similar feelings, how to identify how we feel, and how to discern how others feel by looking at body language and listening to tone of voice. Together we look at the book, The Way I Feel, and students give a silent thumbs-up signal if they’ve felt the feeling described on each page.
Then, in pairs the students are tasked with looking at black and white photo cards from an earlier version of Second Step, identifying the emotions that the children in the picture might be feeling, and creating a short story for what might be happening. In looking at the cards, it’s simple for adults to identify the message the Second Step creators intended to deliver. When I give the cards to our Pre-First students, however, they come up with such different and imaginative stories! It’s fascinating to get a glimpse into what matters to our students by providing resources, time, and space and then letting them run with an idea. A simple black and white photo of a student waiting his turn at the water fountain leads to personal tales of unfairness and frustration for some, and in another class the same picture leads to a discussion of conserving water. Every lesson, every day, and every minute in Love Hall is different from the next, and our creative kids never stop learning!